It feels great to write about something other than our depressing renovation experience. I never envisioned that I would be using this site to share DIY tips but after spending too much money on commercial marble cleaners I just had to share my discovery. Now I’m not saying that I’m the first to discover this miracle cleaner, as I’m sure someone else has already done so, it’s just that through my extensive research on the internet I never came across anything that worked. Also know, this worked for me but I’m making absolutely no guarantees or warranties that you’ll experience the same results.
So towards the end of our renovation the question was asked, “how do you want to finish the surround of your fireplace?” Huh? “Do you want to use tile, stone, brick and you also need to decide on the color?” Oh boy, more decisions. But then we remember an almost full box of Bianco Carrara honed marble tiles which were left over from our Master Bath Floor. Fortunately we didn’t have a lot invested in these tiles since we got them at a discount from a local distributor but this would be a perfect way to utilize some of the extra material…or so we thought.
Now it looked great, white marble tile framed by an off-white mantel with a stone hearth, plus we wouldn’t have to go out and spend any additional money.
Fast forward to after our first few fires in the fireplace. Well for some reason, which has now been fixed, our fireplace wasn’t always drawing the smoke up the chimney as designed. Instead we would have moments when traces of smoke would come out the front of the fireplace which not only provided an unpleasant smell in the house but also left significant smoke stains on the marble surround as well as the mantle.
I wasn’t too concerned with removing the stains from the wood mantel since we’re repainting it in the spring, although 409 did a decent job of removing the majority of it – but the marble surround was another story. I started off following the manufacturer’s recommendations of warm water and soap but it only slightly removed the very top layer of the smoke stain. I needed something stronger, something that could get into this porous, smoke-stained material, so off I went to Home Depot & Target and bought every marble cleaner on their shelves. I had no doubt in my mind that one of these products would be the solution…but I was wrong.
While I’m sure each of these commercial cleaners are effective removing dirt and minor stains none of them removed the noticeable yellow stains from the marble. I followed the directions as stated, then I tried spraying the stone and letting the solution saturate into it, last I even mixed some of the store-bought cleaners together hoping for some sort of chemical mixture solution but nothing happened. Basically the stone looked no different.
So I did what probably every DIYer does, I went to the internet. After a fairly exhaustive search all I found were either suggestions for what I had already tried or warnings on what not to use. So I started thinking, what is a similar natural material that is porous as well as white and what is used to clean it?
Eventually it came to me, Teeth. Now I know there are stark differences between the two but I thought it was worth a try, plus I was desperate or maybe I had now moved over to obsessed. I wasn’t about to use tooth paste for fear of it 1) possibly scratching the marble and 2)I didn’t want to risk trading yellow smoke stains for blue ones, so instead I decided to try an old homemade remedy of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.
So taking a couple of tablespoons of baking soda I mixed in just enough hydrogen peroxide to create a paste. I then took the paste and applied it in a circular motion to the marble with a couple of cotton balls. After about 20 minutes I sprayed one of the cleaners on the marble and I was amazed! It literally reduced the stains by almost half and I could begin to see a little of the veining again in those particular tiles.
But I wasn’t finished, half was good but I still wasn’t satisfied. So that night I made the same solution, applied it and then left it on while we slept. The next morning the paste had hardened so initially I really couldn’t tell a difference so I took a cloth and brushed off what I could and then sprayed it with water, used a different cloth to remove that residue and then sprayed it with one of the commercial cleaners to clean off any remaining paste. Result – almost as clean as the day they came out of the box – for now that’s close enough. What was also amazing was the way that it cleaned the grout. It didn’t remove all of the stains from the grout but it removed the majority of them and there are enough commercial grout cleaners and whiteners available that I’m not overly concerned about it, plus I plan on tackling this issue in a couple of months when the mantel is repainted.
So there you have it, I would love to hear what has or hasn’t worked for you so please feel free to share any recommendations or tips where you’ve found success in cleaning white marble.
September 17, 2014 at 10:32 PM
It’s nearely impossible to find experienced people on this topic,
but you sound like you know what you’re talking about!
September 23, 2014 at 10:54 AM
Thanks, the experience comes from trial & error as well as pure frustration
February 20, 2014 at 9:53 AM
Good info on the marble cleaning. I think a read something like it in the Consumer Reports book “How to clean anything”. Your post has warned me against using marble on my fireplace (if we ever get that far).
I’m with you about all the little (and big) decisions that one makes when renovating. I need a break from that even more than the fact that the house is in total disarray. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music
February 20, 2014 at 10:20 AM
You’ll get there and it will be worth it. Actually the marble isn’t so bad, just more upkeep. Next time I would possibly go with something other than white but for us it just made sense because we already had the extra tiles . Our 6 month project took 18 months and we encountered everything imaginable and lost a lot of money as well. But, we got it done…and we love it. 2 tips, patience and remain in control – you’re the boss. Feel free to ask questions and if the response doesn’t answer your question keep asking. Best of luck and I look forward to following your progress.